Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Which is Better, HP or Dell?

Reader Asks For My Recommendation

Yesterday I received an e-mail enquiry from a person claiming to be a regular reader, who is shopping for a new computer during this “Black Friday”/holiday shopping period.  They asked for my personal preference as to a computer manufacturer… specifically, if the two machines were essentially identically equipped, would I choose an HP Pavilion or a Dell Inspiron?

I kind of had to laugh, because hours earlier (that same day) I had posted, BasicDELL_logo2 Guidelines for Buyinhp_logo_1g a New PC — 2009. In it I had said (yet again) “It really doesn’t matter if you decide upon a no-name, a HP, a Sony, Dell, or whatever. You may want to take advantage of the many mix-and-match-components “custom build” option, and design your own PC.

How can he say that?
Well, folks, it’s like this: computers are really an assembly of parts.
* The motherboard (aka “mainboard”) inside a machine is probably a manufactured-under-license version of either an Intel or an ASUS board.
* The hard drive was probably made by either Toshiba or Seagate.
* The optical drive may be made by, LG, Sony, Fujitsu, or someone you’ve never heard of.
* The power supply is made by somebody else.. or, manufactured-under-license, by somebody’s subsidiary.
* Etc., etc., etc..

Other considerations:
But what about other considerations.. like Customer Support after the sale, you ask.
Yes, you may have heard scary stories about somebody’s “tech support”.. Or maybe you had a neighbor who “will never buy another __________” for one reason or another. I think we all have. In my experience, I have heard bad stories, and I have heard good testimonials, about every single name brand.
Bottom line is, each one has had its embarrassing moments. Each one has its loyal supporters.

Let me give you an analogy: when I have a drippy/stuffed up nose, I use a tissue. I don’t care if it’s made by Kleenex or King Kookie.

I have now, or have purchased in the past, (for family, too) HP, Dell, Gateway, Apple, eMachines, CyberPower and Acer computers. I am probably forgetting somebody.. but this list is in just the last few years. Laptops and desktops. I can nitpik some fault, or find something to laud, about each one.

There is one thing about Dell I do like and feel is worth mentioning.. you can order a “crapware free” version (no “trial” software, Penguin Mania, or “Connect to AOL” icons..).

On the other hand, 3 of my last 4 buys were HP desktops, and when I got them home, I downloaded and ran PC Decrapifier, and got rid of that *stuff* with a couple of clicks… The HP’s were just the best bang-for-my-buck that particular day..

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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November 27, 2009 - Posted by | advice, computers, how to, shopping for | , , , , , , , , , ,

25 Comments »

  1. nice tips..

    Comment by Mini Notebook | November 28, 2009 | Reply

  2. HP laptops have a ~25% failure rate within 3 years of purchase

    Comment by Kloplop321 | November 28, 2009 | Reply

    • Kloplop321,
      Your comment reminded me of a rather famous quote regarding statistics (click here, if you’re interested)… But I really do appreciate reader feedback so I will simply ask you for the sources supporting that figure and ask if you happen to know how Gateway, Sony, Acer, and Toshiba and Dell score …

      Comment by techpaul | November 28, 2009 | Reply

    • This is probably the source. http://www.squaretrade.com/htm/pdf/SquareTrade_laptop_reliability_1109.pdf something to think about, although its probably good to bear in mind the statistic comes from a company providing warranties for computers.

      Comment by jgoto | December 2, 2009 | Reply

      • jgoto,
        Thank you.

        In my (anectodal) experience, HP laptops do not have a “good rep” with people I talk to. I own a 17″ that came with Vista and was “updated” to SP 1 and then SP 2.. which if one listened to all the stories, would be a sure-fire recipe for “glitches”…
        I have heard vehement complaints about Toshibas and Acers.. but never owned any (laptops)…
        Sony and Apple had well-documented incendiary batteries…
        I have heard that ThinkPads “suck” now…
        And of course I have heard the opposite (of each listed above).

        It would be nice if there was ONE bullet-proof, perfect laptop, and then I could simply recommend it.

        Comment by techpaul | December 2, 2009 | Reply

  3. I gotten a Dell Inspiron 6000 when I graduated high school back in ’05 and it work just fine for me. Now I wish I had the specs to upgrade to windows 7 but xp is fine for the time being. All I am saying if you take care of your pc, it will reward you and last beyond some expected date of failure. I gave that Dell to my mother and got myself Macbook (got it for $500 couldn’t pass up that deal).

    Comment by Stumbleupon reader | November 29, 2009 | Reply

    • Stumbleupon reader,
      I agree.. And yes, that was a good price for a Macbook. Normally, they are laughably over-priced.

      Comment by techpaul | November 29, 2009 | Reply

  4. Paul,

    I swear you and me are clones… This article is my thinking and past actions exactly. I currently swing toward the HP’s due to the “bang for the buck” AND YES, there has been those occasions where you will get a lemon (no matter what brand).

    With your permission, I would like to make reference to this article from my blog. Should be in the “lights” in the next couple of days.

    Rick

    Comment by Ramblinrick | November 29, 2009 | Reply

    • Rick,
      Thank you for the words of support, and yes! Your readers are always welcome here.

      Comment by techpaul | November 29, 2009 | Reply

  5. Here’s a tip, Google HP tx1000 problems and get ready to get a sure answer, and it’s not only that model, my daughters dv9000 did the same.

    Comment by Mike | December 3, 2009 | Reply

    • Mike,
      I was game, so I did indeed “Google” HP tx1000 problems.
      I did indeed see many references to what seemed to me to boil down to two faults, mentioned many times. (Faulty nVIDIA drivers [graphics] was a big one.)
      I also noticed that people were mentioning their dissatisfaction with HP support.

      My personal experience – both with a dv9000, and quite recently with HP Total Care support (on behalf of a client) – has been quite the opposite of these complaints. I am very satisfied.

      So… what do you do?

      Research the product in question as best you can, is all I can suggest.

      Comment by techpaul | December 3, 2009 | Reply

  6. [...] to TechPaul, at Tech-for Everyone, his recent article, “Which is better, HP or Dell?” falls in line with my thinking exactly and gives you the answer(s) and some sense of direction when [...]

    Pingback by Tech-for Everyone: Which is better, HP or Dell? « What's On My PC | December 4, 2009 | Reply

  7. Listen, I have had many computers in my life. But i do know one thing. The gateway computers, they seem to suck. It seems like you always have to reformat them. When i got a hold of an hp, i was amazed by it preformace. I was very happy with the product, and now i dont buy anything else. HP. is number one in my book. only bc they are easy to use, very easy.. and plus they make me happy, with the light scribe and all. :) hugs and kisses. Happy new year.

    Comment by Heather | December 31, 2009 | Reply

    • Heather,
      I am sorry to hear that your personal experiences with Gateway has been less than stellar.

      I have not had the same experiences. This blog is almost entirely written on a Gateway laptop and has been for some time. The one (main) problem I had on it was that one of its RAM modules was a bit flaky.. but Gateway does not make the RAM.. nor do they make Vista.. nor do they write the nVIDIA graphics driver.. (my other main complaint: long resolved).

      Comment by techpaul | January 1, 2010 | Reply

  8. I’m just saying, you buy a HP you better hope it doesn’t fail on the 366th day, even if they repaired it 6 months ago or you will be SOL… One support person told me that they might do something for us in 2010 when the new budet come out, but I sure won’t count on that.

    Comment by Mike | January 1, 2010 | Reply

    • Mike,
      To the best of my knowledge and experiences, the “366th day” (aka “out of warranty period”) critique can be applied to every manufacturer, and to far more things than just computers. Unless you pay for a longer coverage, of course.

      But, here’s a “bonus tip”: sometimes the manufacturer of the part’s warranty is longer than the computer’s. I’ll give you a hypothetical ‘for instance’.. let’s say your HP PC’s hard drive failed on the 366th day, and let’s also say the hard drive is a .. um.. SuperDisk Brand. SuperDisk’s warranty for a replacement unit is 3 years (hence the name “super”). Well, then, on that 366th day, HP would rightly say, “sorry, but our coverage expired” and SuperDisk would say “here’s a new drive.”

      Comment by techpaul | January 1, 2010 | Reply

  9. Simple to me, Google “tx1000″ and just read on ..

    Comment by MikeyK | July 6, 2010 | Reply

    • MikeyK,
      Each and every major manufacturer has some of these: today’s news is about about a Sony VIAO recall.

      You might be interested in Tech’s Most (and Least) Reliable Brands (it shows HP and Dell as neck-and-neck at the “bottom of the barrel”.)

      Comment by techpaul | July 6, 2010 | Reply

  10. I personally like to build my own computers myself. I won’t build them for customers because they are looking to save money. What cost me $400 to build without all of the addons such as a monitor or printer you can get for $100.00 more in the store. So therefore I just service whatever my customer decides to get.

    My experience I hate HP. I hated HP since the late 90’s and even up to today. A lot of times they don’t list there drivers on the web incase you have to format there computer, They are loaded with a bunch of junk which causes errors and slowness with the pc. For me personally I’d rather work on an inside of a Dell case anyday vs an HP.

    You couldn’t pay me to buy any HP product. I hate there printers, there computers, and everything about them. There printers for the most part the feeders don’t work, and are made out of cheap plstic and of course if you want to downlooad there software it’s usually a 400mb download. and as far as there computers are concerned. Again they are loaded with Junk such as hp advisor, solution center, etc and at times there restore disks don’t work correctly and the customer service says one thing but they do another.

    Dell Computers have that cheap plastic look but it’s basicly the same parts but they are so much easier to work with. If I have to reload an OS I don’t have to worry about if all the drivers will be listed. The only thing that Dell put’s on there computer that I feel is junk is the dell support software but you can take that off. Of course they both use norton and the rest of there junk ware but hp uses a lot more of it.

    Me personally I’m a Dell man.

    Comment by Greg R | January 3, 2011 | Reply

    • Greg R,
      Yes.. you sound like a “Dell man”. And I quite agree with your statement inre: building.

      Please don’t think I am arguing with you, or trying to talk you out of being a “Dell man”. But I enjoy discussions like this, and simply want to put in my two cents. (As you might guess, I can talk for hours about tech…)
      * In my mind, there are actually two Dell’s — the ‘high end’, often customizable, Dells (such as the XPS): which I like and recommend. And then there’s ‘cookie cutter’ Inspirons that you find in classrooms and cubicles, which I don’t care for so much (and often had 2 RAM slots..).
      * If you must restore a Dell, you had better use their disc. As they make proprietary changes at some pretty deep levels. And I have restored/recovered Dells plenty of times when all the drivers were not self-detecting+repairing (or ‘listed’). (I am not singling out Dell by any means.. I am just saying Dell’s are not immune, in my experience.)
      * The first thing I do to any new machine is run PCDecrapifier. I do not want Polar Penguins or Connect to AOL Trial no matter who assembles the machine. Dell offers a “crapware free” option when ordering online that I highly recommend people take advantage of.. and I commend them for this.
      * Maybe I’m wrong in this, but I do not judge a company’s ability to assemble/build/design PC’s by comparing how they do with camcorders or printers. This is a good thing for HP, as I am not a big fan of their printers… But then, I have “critiques” of just about every printer out there…
      * My own experiences with HP’s support have been excellent. But I understand this is not the case for everyone.. in fact, HP has taken some rather strong ‘knocks’ for poor customer satisfaction of late, and has admitted to this, and vowed to correct this area.
      * I have personally owned several Dell and HP machines, laptops and desktops. I could – specifically – critique and compliment – each one. Both have merits and faults.

      Comment by techpaul | January 3, 2011 | Reply

      • Hey Paul thanks As I said I prefere to build my own machines all together. By no means are Dell’s perfect. I brought this Dell Laptop xps 1340 from Best Buy. to make a long story short I had it replaced three times. BB version had this model that used a bad manufacture for a dvd burner. I kept screaming just give me another manufacture. After I had that burner replaced with the same manufacture it didn’t work. So they did the motherboard and the panel. Long story short they could have saved themselves money and time if they listened to me. I wound up with a new one from the Dell factory after screaming and yes I got the better dvd burner no problems after a year :)

        So yes you have a very valid point. and this was a studio xps. This laptop I have now (the new one from Dell factory is perfect) Even with the problem I have I’d still would rather buy from Dell. They honored there product (even in an idotic way)

        I also agree any restore partition is not good. I found problems in some of them like HP Gateway with came up with errors. Mine was ok but I wound up putting windows 7 on it anyway with my own disk. But you are right the partition puts on a bunch of crapware Personally for me I find more of it on HP But everyone had there experiences. But for the average customer I work with because the software factor it’s much easier for me to work with Dell’s. I will say this at time’s I’ve seen HP machines built more solid But I found them to be proprietary also.

        I think it’s the nature of the beast. if you are going to buy from any manufacture there are going to be issues just build your own.

        Comment by Greg R | January 6, 2011 | Reply

        • 5 Dells and 2 HPs (tx1000 and a dv9000 for my daughter) Both took a crap, the tx1000 which I loaded up $$ in 6 months, then again in 7 months which put it out of warranty. I just googled hp dv9000, hiding from your problems is the number one way to loose me as a customer, as I said before: “never, ever another anything with “HP” on it made for someone else as a vendor”. If anyone has tech support worse than HP it would surprise me. Having had GREAT luck with all my Dell products, I now realize looking at and buying two HP computers was due to a Giant
          Brain Fart on my part. I’ve always said: screw me once, shame on you, screw me twice and that’s my error, that will not happen with me ..

          Comment by MikeyK | January 6, 2011 | Reply

          • MikeyK,
            I am going to leave your comment to stand for itself, and thank you for your testimony.

            My only response will be to say I am sorry you had bad experiences.

            Comment by techpaul | January 6, 2011 | Reply

  11. I forgot to mention I’ve used pcdecrapifier before and it’s a great tool I stopped using it when it deleted some drivers and I had to reload them for customers but this was a few years ago.

    What I do now is I uninstall the programs that I don’t want msconfig and only run what I want to run and I’ll use CCleaner to clean the regestry and windows I’ll also aft. I also made a new discovery something called Tracks eraser pro the exe is te8 it’s really for cleaning out the index.dat file but it also does a super job on cleaning up windows. I’ve used it in xp to windows 7.

    I like decrapifier but on a few jobs not all it deleted some stuff I didn’t want deleted. If they improved it let me know.

    Comment by Greg R | January 6, 2011 | Reply

    • Greg R,
      I think, if you give the latest version another shot, that the “control-ability” is enhanced, and the list of ‘targets’ is more complete.

      However, someone with your skilz, would probably only find such a tools a timesaver. The “average computer user” probably isn’t comfortable making changing in msconfig.. if they know what it is.

      Bottom line is (IMHO) until crapware free units sell significantly more (i.e. are demanded by the consumer) than our current loaded-up units will remain the norm.

      Comment by techpaul | January 6, 2011 | Reply


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